Wed, Jul 02, 2003 - Page 19 News List

W Indies wins test series

AP , KINGSTON, JAMAICA

A crop of young players led the West Indies to a test series victory against Sri Lanka in the last match of its home season, spurring optimism for the return of cricket glory days to the Caribbean.

The West Indies, with an average age of only 24, beat the visitors Sunday by seven wickets in three days at Sabina Park to take the two-match series 1-0.

Most promising was the emergence of rookie fast bowlers Fidel Edwards, 21, and Jerome Taylor, 19. The lack of quality bowling has been a source of the team's struggles in recent years.

Edwards grabbed five wickets on his debut in the second test victory and consistently bowled at 145kph.

Taylor, in only his first first-class season, took just two wickets in two tests, but his potential was evident to captain Brian Lara, who called him "something special." Lara, a 34-year-old champion batsman, said the improvement in his young players in successive series against the mighty Australians and Sri Lanka made him adjust his goals for overseas tours next winter.

"At the beginning of the year, I would have said we have South Africa at the end of the year and we would do well to win a test," Lara said after Sunday's victory. "Now, I expect us to win the series."

The only team members older than 28 are Lara, wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs, 35, and journeyman fast bowler Vasbert Drakes, 33.

Barbadian fast bowler Corey Collymore, 25, claimed successive five-wicket hauls, including a remarkable seven for 57 to set up the decisive win against Sri Lanka.

Lara, only three months back in the captain's position he had left in 2000, said he was confident his team would only improve.

"I honestly feel that if we can take care of South Africa we would be well on our way," Lara said. "Then, I'd be able to tell you if we can take on the world, because the world is Australia."

The revitalized skipper said that the experience gained from the recent tough series against the world champion Australians helped shape the win against Sri Lanka.

His team also got a boost in self-confidence from Lara's historic three-wicket win in the final test of the Australian series when in pursuit of a record 418 in the fourth inning.

"Most importantly, we've worked over the last three months in getting the right combination, getting the right attitude, character traits working towards a team that is going to do well long-term, not spontaneous -- you know, here today, gone tomorrow." Lara said.

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